My love for carrot cake runs very deep. In my opinion, it’s the best cake flavor and should not only be limited to one season but that’s a conversation for another time. But THIS carrot cake recipe RIGHT HERE is the absolute best. It’s incredibly moist, perfectly spiced, and coated in a simple cream cheese frosting. It doesn’t get much better than that.
How to make carrot cake from scratch
If you’ve never had homemade carrot cake, meaning not from a box or pre-made, then get ready to have your mind blown. You’ll be making carrot cake from scratch every year from here on out.
It starts, very obviously, with the carrots. Do not buy the bags of pre-shredded carrots as those aren’t grated finely enough. Also make sure to buy organic carrots. I find they have much better flavor and texture than regular.
Start by rinsing and pealing your large carrots (not baby carrots). Using a box grater, grate using the second largest holes. You’re wanting it to grate like a fine shredded cheese.
It takes about 5 large carrots to get the amount you need. Once you fill up 2 1/2 cups worth, set it aside.
What spices are in carrot cake?
Next, we want to whisk together the dry ingredients. Carrot cake is typically made with a combination of warm spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger. It closely resembles a spice cake but with more moisture from the carrots.
For this carrot cake recipe, we’re using cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove. I found this combination lended the best flavor. Whisk together in a bowl along with salt, flour, and baking soda.
How to make a moist carrot cake WITHOUT pineapple
A little trick some like to do with their carrot cake is add some crushed pineapple. It adds tons of moisture but I like to have that carrot flavor stand alone. So here’s what I do to make a SUPER moist carrot cake without any fruit!
The two simple ingredients that makes this cake amazing are the oil and Greek yogurt. I love using oil in cakes because not only does it make your cake moist, but it also STAYS moist for much longer than if you used butter.
That’s because oil is 100% fat where butter is around 80%. But, it’s important to use butter in cakes that don’t have other flavors included.
For example, we use butter in a plain vanilla cake because you’re able to actually taste the flavor of the butter. Otherwise, it would just taste like an oil cake. Since we’re using carrots and spices in this cake, you don’t notice the oil flavor and get to reap all the benefits of its delicious texture.
Greek yogurt also adds to the perfect texture of this cake. Most cakes might use buttermilk or whole milk. Because I’m using Greek yogurt, it makes the cake moist without making it too soft. If it’s too soft, it might fall apart when stacking.
Baking your carrot cake
Once we’ve mixed together the sugars, eggs, oil, vanilla, Greek yogurt, carrots, and dry ingredients…your cake is ready to bake!
I used 3 round 6″ cake pans for this recipe. You could also use 3 round 8″ pans but reduce the time by about 8 minutes and keep an eye on it until it’s done.
To get the PERFECT carrot cake layers, I love to use cake strips. You dampen and wrap them around the cake pans before baking.
This prevents the outside of the pan from heating up too quickly, thus lending a cake that is evenly baked all the way through. Plus, it gives you flat cake layers so you don’t have to slice anything off the tops.
It’s done when the edges start to pull away from the pan and a toothpick stuck in the center of the cake comes out clean with a few moist crumbs.
How to frost and speckle your cake
First and foremost, do not frost your cake until it is COMPLETELY cooled. After they’ve cooled in the pan, pop them onto a cooling rack for about 20 minutes. Then, wrap your layers in plastic wrap and place them in the fridge for at least 1 hour. This makes stacking your cake much easier.
When frosting the cake, spread about 1/2-3/4 cup of frosting between each layer. Once stacked, place it in the fridge for 20-30 minutes so that the frosting layers can firmed up.
Continue frosting the outside of your cake. Smooth out your sides and pipe some extra frosting swirls on top. Place the cake back in the fridge for another 30 minutes.
To get that specked look, you’ll need some cocoa powder and vanilla extract. Mix the two together and use a pastry brush to splatter it on.
I like to dip my brush, press it against the edge of the bowl to drain out any express, then treat it like a whip to splatter the cake, holding it a few inches away.
When the brush starts to lose some of the cocoa mixture, use your finger and run it across the edge of the bristles. This creates much smaller speckles so you can get a variety of sizes and textures.
For more cake recipes:
- Cookie Dough Cake
- Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes
- Spice Cake with Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting
- New York Style Cheesecake
Make sure to tag me @butternutbakery on Instagram if you make this Carrot Cake recipe. I love seeing my recipes come to life in YOUR kitchen! To pin this recipe and save it for later, you can use the button on the recipe card, the buttons above or below this post, or on any of the photos above. Happy baking!
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